Nike Indoor National Championships

March 11th & 12th, 2006

Prince George's Sports Complex - Landover, MD


By Pete Cava, National Scholastic Sports Foundation

Johnny Dutch.

It’s a name right out of Damon Runyan’s Guys and Dolls, like Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit. 

Or maybe the handle of western movie gunslinger, like Stony Brooke.   

Actually, Johnny Dutch is a top gun in the gang of hurdlers who’ll be at the National Scholastic Sports Foundation’s Nike Indoor Nationals in Landover, Md., March 11-12.

A junior at Clayton (N.C.) High School, the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Johnny Dominique Dutch owns the top three times on the current national prep list for the 39-inch, 55-meter hurdles.  The budding track star’s success stems from a strenuous training regimen, as well as a visit last year to a legendary hurdles coach. 

Dutch’s first inspiration, however, was his older sister Ashley.  “She was a hurdler, and she ran summer track,” said Johnny, who tagged along when Ashley went to Saturday practices.  “I used to go with her, and just watch everybody run while I played around in the long jump pit.  I’d build ant hills in the sand.  I didn’t even have running in my mind at the time.”

One day, when Johnny was 8, he watched Ashley glide over a hurdle.  “This time it caught my attention,” he said.  Johnny set up a hurdle on the infield grass and began imitating his sister. 

Aaron McDougal, Ashley’s coach, observed the proceedings.  And McDougal (who now coaches Hurdles First, Johnny’s club team) liked what he saw.  “He was like, ‘C’mon over here!  And start practicing every Saturday, like your sister,’” said Johnny.       

Ashley retired from track after two years at the University of North Carolina.  But her kid brother stayed with it, and with excellent results.  Johnny won the 2004 state 3A 110m hurdles crown in 14.16, a freshman class record. 

At the 2005 Nike Indoor meet, Dutch qualified for the 60m hurdles final with a dazzling 7.90 in the semis.  His time was a sophomore class record.  The youngest performer in the final, Dutch ran 7.91 to take fifth place.  “It was pretty intimidating,” he said.  “I couldn’t get off my mind how big those guys were.  I’ve matured a lot since then, but at the time, it kind of threw me.”   

At last year’s North Carolina outdoor high school championships, Dutch won a second 110m hurdles title, this time with a meet-record time of 13.88.  Afterwards, he visited hurdles guru Jean Poquette, who coached Hall of Famer Renaldo Nehemiah in high school. 

“At first, I didn’t know who he was,” said Johnny.  “We were up in the mountains, and it was cold.  I had to borrow some pants to run in.  Coach Poquette looked at my form and told me how good a hurdler I was.  He gave me some great advice.”

Dutch’s daily regimen involves sit-ups, pushups and repetitive hurdling.  “Lots and lots of rep hurdles” he said.  “I’ve been doing more than 300 hurdles every day.  I do 300 pushups a day, too.  A hundred in the morning.  Sometimes 200 at night, if I’m not too tired.” 

Dutch’s personal best of 13.82 came at the 2005 Junior Olympics state meet on June 26 in Boone, N.C.  It made him the No. 7 prep performer on the national high school list.  He also had a wind-aided mark of 13.77 at a high school regional meet on May 7. 

In June 2005, Dutch entered the Nike Outdoor Nationals at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro.  He was one of just two sophomores in a 24-man field for the 110m hurdles.  He qualified for the final, but crashed a hurdle late in the race and failed to finish. 

Earlier in the day, Dutch had competed in the 400m hurdles.  “Maybe my body wasn’t mature enough to run two events all-out in one day,” he said.  “I think my legs gave out by the fifth hurdle and I crashed and burned.  Also, I wasn’t running my race in that final.  I was running the other guys’ race.”           

Dutch’s last hurrah for the 2005 season came during late July at the National Junior Olympics in Indianapolis.  Competing in the intermediate (15-16) division, he ran away from the field to win in 13.92, a meet-record time.  “I’m pretty excited because I’ve worked pretty hard,” Dutch told reporters.  “And I want to thank my competition because they pushed me to the record.”

This indoor season, Dutch just keeps getting better.  On February 11 in Chapel Hill, he won the state indoor 55mH title with a meet-record time of 7.13 – the year’s quickest high school performance and the No. 3 all-time mark.  “It felt awkward,” Dutch told The Raleigh News and Observer.  “I was just running as fast as I could.  I didn’t know what happened.  I was running with my heart.”  

Following the Nike Indoor Nationals, Dutch will concentrate on outdoor track.  He plans to continue in both hurdles (his 400H personal best is 52.06, set at the 2005 Junior Olympic national meet).  Right now the biggest event on Dutch’s summer schedule is the Nike Outdoor Nationals, which take place June 16-17.

Johnny, a Raleigh native who turned 17 on January 20, is already thinking about college.  He’s not sure where, but he’d like to stay close to home.  “I haven’t narrowed it down yet,” he said.  But it’ll be somewhere in the South.  Some place where it’s warm.”


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